At the fifth meeting of the national oil spill commission today, Fred Bartlit, the commission’s chief counsel, and his staffers are painting a detailed portrait of the events surrounding the April 20 explosion of the Macondo well that led to the Gulf oil spill.
The meeting comes two weeks after oil spill commission staff revealed that testing conducted by Halliburton weeks before the Macondo well blowout indicated that the cement to be used to secure the well casing was unstable.
In a detailed presentation the began this morning and is still going on, Bartlit listed a series of challenges in drilling the Macondo well, noting the massive scale of the endeavor. The well is in more than 5,000 feet of water and bored down more than 13,000 additional feet into the seafloor.
Bartlit, conducting his presentation like a prosecutor in a courtroom, was careful not to place blame on any company for the explosion and resulting spill, consistently warning against drawing broad conclusions. “No one of these things is the be all and end all,” he said. Earlier, he specified: “We have not seen a single instance where a human being made a decision that put money above safety.”
I’ll be following the meeting all day and will update with more details.